Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted this morning that he has "the absolute right to PARDON" himself, but added "why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?" He went even farther than the words of his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani over the weekend, who argued that Trump "probably does" have a self-pardon power.

The bottom line: Nobody really knows for sure whether the president has the power to pardon himself. It's never been attempted, so its constitutionality has not been tested in court — but people have plenty of opinions on the issue.

The constitutional question
  • The Constitution says the president "shall have the Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment."
  • The clear exceptions: The president's pardon power is limited to only federal crimes because of the specificity of "offenses against the United States." And most legal experts say a pardon can not be used on any "future" crimes, according to Politifact.
  • But, but, but: The Constitution only explicitly prevents the president from pardoning himself in cases of impeachment, so any other instances are an open question.
The "yes" crowd
  • John Yoo, a law professor at Berkeley and former legal adviser in the George W. Bush administration, wrote in The New York Times that "President Trump can clearly pardon anyone — even himself — subject to the Mueller investigation."
  • David Rivkin Jr. and Lee Casey, former staffers in the Reagan and H.W. Bush administrations, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that Trump could "end this madness by immediately issuing a blanket presidential pardon to anyone involved in supposed collusion with Russia or Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign." They specified that any theoretical blanket pardon would include Trump himself, provided the House did not choose to impeach him.
  • P.S. Ruckman, a legal professor at Rock Valley College, kept it simple, telling Bloomberg that Trump "could write his pardon down on a napkin and sign it — that would be a pardon."
The "no" crowd
  • Then-Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary Lawton wrote during the Watergate scandal: "Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the President cannot pardon himself." This is one of the most heavily-cited opinions against a presidential self-pardon, highlighted again this morning by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, Richard Painter, the former chief White House ethics lawyer for W. Bush, and Norman Eisen, former chief White House ethics lawyer for Obama, wrote a piece for the Washington Post, titled simply: "No, Trump can’t pardon himself. The Constitution tells us so."
  • Author and Michigan State law professor Brian Kalt told CNN that that the chances of a president being able to pardon himself would be less than 50%, but not 0%. He said he believes that "any court faced with the issue should rule against self-pardons' validity. But "should" and "would" are two different things."

Be smart: The even bigger question is whether Republicans would move to impeach Trump should he ever decide to issue a self-pardon. As Axios' Jim VandeHei wrote about the president's sway on his own party: "If you think he won't try something unprecedented — and maybe get away with it, at least with Republicans — you aren’t paying attention."

Go deeper: It's not normal: Trump’s obstruction and pardon moves.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

HRW: Over 100 former Afghan security members dead or missing under Taliban rule

Members of the Taliban movement patrol Kabul's airport in September. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

The Taliban have "killed or forcibly disappeared" over 100 former members of Afghanistan's security forces since the group took power in August, a Human Rights Watch report published Tuesday found.

Why it matters: It means former military members and officials from the ousted government, activists and other Taliban critics are facing peril amid executions driven by revenge — despite Taliban promises of an "amnesty" with no retributions, notes the New York Times, which first reported the news.

2 hours ago - World

Barbados becomes a republic, replacing U.K. queen with president

Combination images of Dame Sandra Mason, president of Barbados, and Britain's Prince Charles at her swearing-in ceremony in Bridgetown, Barbados, late Monday.

Barbados officially became a republic at midnight local time after Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the Caribbean nation's first president in a ceremony attended by the United Kingdom's Prince Charles.

Why it matters: Mason replaced Britain's Queen Elizabeth as head of state Tuesday — removing the country's final remaining colonial tie to the U.K. almost 400 years after the first British ships arrived in Barbados.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.